In a recent book and in a number of interviews, essays, and op-eds, Marc Thiessen has revived discussion of the tactics used by the Bush administration to obtain actionable intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks. The Christmas day arrest of Farouk Abdulmutallab confirms that this is still a live issue: ought Mr. Abdulmuttalab to have been waterboarded immediately in order to determine whether any other attacks were in the offing?
Thiessen’s defense of “enhanced interrogation tactics,” including waterboarding, has been especially striking for his reliance on the conceptual apparatus of the Catholic moral tradition. That tradition has held that the state has a duty to protect its citizens against aggression, and that in prosecuting that duty the state may use force, even lethal force.
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